Something I have way too much of, with way too many projects coming up… I should thin the existing the herd. (Let me know if you are interested.)
I didn’t have much off time in the past few weeks, but in the little I did have, I hit this project I have been wanting to deal with for months. I have this Peavey Reactor AX from the 90’s. (The more premium line of the Made in USA Peavey tele guitars. The last line of affordable electric guitars made in the US.) The more premium AX line came with blade pickups but one of the coils in the neck pickup was dead in mine. Had to do something with it. (That neck pickup was everything but useful anyway. I like the bridge pickup, but, lets face it, the only reason to put a blade pickup into a Tele is because you refuse to play anything but Teles and you need a different sound – this was not the case for me.)
So I dug through my drawers and found a few options. I had a re-wound American Standard pickup (I understand it was wound by Lindy Fralin for a more beefy tone. It has an awesome vintage white string coil cover.) I also had a hot ceramic Made in Mexico Fender Strat neck pickup. The neck pickup in this guitar was strat sized. I had several tele neck pickups lying around as well, but that would have required a new pickguard at minimum. So I needed a strat pickup for the neck.
(I also got a beat up Peavey Predator AX strat I got from someone in Alabama. Stereotypically, it came with a huge vinyl John 14:6 sticker on it along with that MIM Fender in the neck and three (3!!) Kent Armstrong HR1RAs that are completely rusted up due to what I assume to be the Alabama humidity and many hours of sweaty Christian rock. I don’t know what I am gonna do with these Kent Armstrongs. They look like hell. Would be a great relic project but I am not a fan of these pickups, in general. I rewired this guitar with more classic strat pickups I got from Italian Boutique maker Alberto Arcangeli, aka Dreamsong Pickups, who is a super nice dude. I also had that strat refretted with vintage steel frets. It is my preferred Peavey of the two, I have to admit. I have a third one, but that is a whole different beast from the perspective of comparability – Floyd Rose, Humbuckers, EVH… great neck though.)
So I kept on digging in the drawer and found an unidentified (and unidentifiable – I have no clue where I got it) strat pickup with more vintage measurements. For the bridge, I also found the prototype Alberto made for my Baritone, a tele bridge pickup with a more vintage vibe. (In the end, this pickup was not very balanced in the baritone so he had to make one with staggered polpieces, which works perfectly now. But I had this left over.) Given the acoustic and tonal characteristics (and the looks) of this guitar, I figured the more vintage vibe, vs the more in your face set previously described should work better.
So I got to work. Lead on the strat pickup was ridiculous, but I was able to fit it with the pickup switch working backward. I only had to extend ground (which should be OK). The two pickups are RWRP as far as I can tell/hear, so that is cool too. I found a nice white cover for the neck pickup. You be the judge, but I think it looks a lot cooler than a black cover. (The original pickup was black and this one had a black cover too.) The result, this shitty neck pickup sounds great. Totally delivers that strat neck sound. The bridge is pure tele joy. The in between is somewhere in between the in between of a tele and a strat in tone. A very useable sound that can imitate the best of both worlds. I am super happy with the results.
I’ll play with it a bit more as its new set up is a lot of fun, but I already suspect that it is going to need a new home. The neck is a sporty, fast playing rock neck and I prefer a chunky, beefy vintage baseball bat. I will keep the strat (same neck) and probably set it up for versatility once this project I last wrote about is done. (For versatility, I am thinking Seymour Duncan Twangbanger in the bridge, said MIM start pickup in the middle with its own volume control as a subtle roll in for those country licks, and a Seymour Duncan Little ’59 in the neck.)
I have so many tele projects it is not even funny. I bought this body (left) a while back from the same dude I got this strat body from. And I should have also bought the one on the right too (as I love it and it was peanuts) but it was too close to linked strat body in style and color. It is sitting at my friend’s place in Nebraska. I need a neck and have my eyes on a few pieces.
I am also eyeing this beast only to make sure nobody can accuse me of being anti-second amendment. (I guess the shotgun shells here help as well.) But this would need a new neck as well. (Maybe I could find a nice sneakhead for this.) And that pickup (or pickup routing) would be hard to hide. It cannot stay as such. (Holes on the back, but not a string through set up. Shitty. Plus an Esquire should be… well… an Esquire) I would probably have to get a bridge like this below (as this is the only thing I found that is wide enough to cover a humbucker hole – that research was done for my Fender Baritone Blacktop conversion back into a real tele). On the baritone and I am super happy with this bridge, but stylistically I am not sure this is the right hardware for this ammo crate salvage body.
I guess I could make both of these Esquires, one with the Fralin rewind and the other with the Peavey Blades. I still have another a tele set sitting around somewhere so I guess I would just have to stay on the look out for something tele and awesome. (And the baritone has a horribly heavy body too. I would not mind replacing.) I have a pickup set for a Brent Mason set up as well. (At least the vintage stack tele for the bridge and the hot stack strat for the middle. I also have a vintage stack neck tele but, honestly, I would not mind pairing it with a Don Mare Big Box either… I love that sound.) So plenty of tele projects in my future I feel. One thing I am sure about, one of these should be a bender. (Probably this Mason-Big Box one.)
Man, I saw an American Fender Strat (!!) with Glaser B and G (!!) benders for under a grand. I should have jumped on it immediately, but I was weirded out by the fact that it was a strat and not a tele. But hindsight, I totally could have worked it. See “versatile” set up above. But there is this German dude who makes B/G bender conversions and builds dual bender Teles. Last I asked, he was willing to make me one for under a grand without the pickups. (That was two years ago, and while I don’t know this guy’s work, it may be very good, he is definitely not Joe Glaser.) I do wonder if he could do a Tahiti Coral finish for me… hmmm…)
I also have this black Epiphone Dot. It was fun to play around with but I just can’t justify keeping it around since I purchased a similar style Duesenberg (hunted down a Japanese Limited Edition just for the color). I also have a pretty good 000C-16 Martin acoustic (with Fishman) that is not getting much lap time. (It is a very special line and time guitar not to be confused with the pile of garbage the 16 line became after 1995. Best value for money as far as Martins go.)
So if you are interested in the Peavey tele, Epi Dot or the Martin, make me an offer.